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Jun 26, 2016
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Nightlife: Henry's
By Matt Berkley | Photos by Jonathan Gayman
Posted On: 06/06/2016   

Stepping onto the well-trodden brick of the Henry’s back patio has the strange but comfortable feeling of wandering into a house party – with better booze. If you’ve spent any time carousing around the island that is Soulard, you’ll remember this space as the former The Shanti reborn.

The most impressive transformation is the indoor space, which was thoroughly scrubbed of the stale smoke, spilled beer and biker bar funk that festered a few too many years in Shanti. The grand old wood bar remains, but the rock ’n’ roll memorabilia and bumper stickers that once covered the walls so thickly they seemed load-bearing are gone. A tastefully muted coat of copper-colored paint adds freshness to the space, while vintage black-and-white snapshots offer a little historical charm (albeit a tawdry charm, since the snapshots are primarily artsy parlor house nudes). Combine those with the garish, grand light fixtures, and Henry’s feels like a sexy European-style boudoir.

The soul of this joint is the patio with all its open-air, red brick, back-alley allure. The happy-go-lucky, French Quarter-esque space sports its own sizeable outdoor bar flanked by a few flat-screen TVs invariably tuned to a sporting event. Aside from the addition of a seating area in the form of a green truck bed fitted with bench seats, the outdoor space is practically unchanged from its Shanti days. Presumably, Henry’s figured that part wasn’t broke.

This is a shots and beers place. It didn’t even stock a simple bottle of bitters on my visit, but if you’re set on cocktails, a handful were featured on a chalkboard next to the main bar: standards like the Moscow Mule or the Squirter, a house margarita doused with Squirt soda. What these lacked in imagination, they made up for in frat house-level potency. Amiable bartenders were happy to MacGyver a more than decent martini and other classic cocktails with limited supplies, but the simple, sweet warm-weather house cocktails were a great fit for the patio.

Henry’s is best suited for a frosty beer on a hot day. Around a half dozen taps poured out $5 standards like Blue Moon, Guinness and Coors, along with a few highly drinkable local brews such as Urban Chestnut’s Zwickel and Schnickelfritz. Likewise, both the indoor and outdoor bars had coolers well stocked with bottles of Schlafly, Boulevard and New Belgium beers alongside Heineken, Dos Equis, Stella Artois and Red Stripe – plus cans of Stag thrown in for good measure. Standard domestic bottles, or “good ol’ macro beer” as they call them, are cracked open for $1 a pop on Mondays.

There’s no kitchen to speak of (This is a drinker’s bar, after all.), but management seems to have an arrangement with the nearby Ninth Street Deli, which is happy to deliver.
T-shirts, flip-flops and ball caps are the standard dress code at this patio party bar. Like the rest of Soulard, Henry’s draws in a super casual, eclectic crowd of young professionals plus plenty of middle-aged patrons and even retirees and old rummies looking to sip away an afternoon. When the sun goes down, so does the age range on the patio as boisterous young drinkers crowd one of the best outdoor drinking holes St. Louis has to offer.

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